Incinerator on Ohkay Owingeh

North Central Solid Waste Authority officials are considering moving from this traditional incinerator to get rid of its green waste and moving to a large commercial chipper. The Authority would share the chipper with Taos County, not a selling point for some Board members. The Board will decide at its April Board meeting which way it will go.

    North Central Solid Waste Authority is to purchase a new air burner unit for its Ohkay Owingeh convenience station.

    The Authority spends $50,000 a year to remove ash from the current incinerator Authority General Manager Peter Fuller said during the Authority’s March 19 meeting. That incinerator must be replaced.

    “We’re looking like it’s gonna be the incinerator, that’s probably what we’re going to go with,” Fuller said.

    Some time ago the proposition of purchasing a wood chipper was floated during a Board meeting.

    Currently the burning is on Ohkay Owingeh land because it is exempt from the New Mexico Environment Department’s air quality standards. Fuller said that usually the burner is at a high enough temperature that there aren’t any obvious emissions but sometimes if the temperature drops, the soot and smoke is obvious.

    “There are times when emissions are present, and can travel in the air to other portions of the pueblo, Española and Rio Arriba County,” Fuller said in his report to the board.

    The wood chipper would not have the disposal and emission problems, Fuller said. The wood chips can be disposed of in any landfill but Fuller said more importantly they could be used for erosion control and landscaping projects as well as being sold to the public.

    Fuller said that the Alcalde transfer station would be a better fit for the grinder then the current green waste disposal location in Okay Owingeh because it has more space for customers to collect wood chips.

    Joe Lewandowski, a contractor for the Authority in charge of it’s revitalization plan and former general manager, said the chipper is also faster than the incinerators.

    “I’m not exaggerating when I say you can grind 80 percent of a pile in the time it would take to burn 20 percent of the pile,” Lewandowski said. “So you’ve got reduced man hours there. The grinder is the more efficient way, it’s more costly to start up but then you’ll have that machine for years.”

    Meetings with the Taos Regional Landfill board indicated it would be willing to partner with the Authority to split the purchase of the chipper so both organizations could put it to use fuller said.

    The cost of a new air burner is estimated to be $128,939 with the accessories needed.

    The wood chippers the Authority are looking at range from $423,919 for a new one to $215,000 used.

    If Fuller is correct in that it would cost nothing to get rid of the wood chipper the new one would take around six years to make up the cost difference and as few as two years for the cheapest used model. This does not take into account any amount Taos contributes to purchasing the wood chipper. Taos Regional officials told Fuller they would not contribute to the purchasing of an incinerator, Fuller said in his report.

    However, the Authority Board members said they had concerns with sharing the wood chipper. Ben Lujan, the board member from Ohkay Owingeh, said he also would prefer to keep whatever they decided on at the Ohkay Owingeh convenience station.

    “I would prefer if we took the lead and had total control,” Lujan said. “We do generate a lot of tree limbs through the valley. I don’t know if we can afford to have our machine sitting in Taos for six months out of the year.”

    Finalized plans for the burner will be presented at the April board meeting where a decision will be made.

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